BURLEY TOBACCO/DARK FIRED TOBACCO: Workers will seed, set, cut, house, and strip tobacco. Workers will plant tobacco seeds in trays kept in environmentally controlled structure. When seedlings reach the appropriate size workers will transplant seedlings to prepared beds according to supervisors instructions. Workers will pull 6 to 10-inch-tall plants from a plant bed one at a time. The stems of the plant must not be bruised. The plants are put into bundles with roots at the same end so they can be transplanted. The bundles are hauled to the field for transplanting into separate rows 38 to 42 inches apart. The plants are spaced in the row from 16 to 20 inches apart. Machines pulled by a small tractor are used to transplant the tobacco. Workers will chop out weeds with a hoe or pull by hand. Workers will remove tops and suckers from plants. Workers using a tobacco knife will cut ripe plants off at ground level and spear the tobacco stalk over metal spear onto wooden stick (stick is 48 inches long, one end is stuck in ground, and metal spear is placed on other end). Industry standard is six (6) plants per stick (stick and six (6) plants may weigh 80 pounds, and plants may be seven (7) feet tall). Workers may drop sticks in standing tobacco before cutting by hand or by machine.
Worker will transfer tobacco-loaded sticks from ground to wagon or trailer and load sticks in orderly fashion on said wagon or trailer. Workers will be required to climb into the barns to hang sticks of tobacco. Worker will then transfer sticks from wagon or trailer to other workers standing on rails in tobacco-curing barn. Workers standing on rails (worker stands with one foot on each rail -- rails may be 48 inches apart and from 6 to 40 feet from ground) will either hang stick and separate plants or will transfer to another worker for purposes of air-curing the tobacco. For best results, curing barns should be filled in as short a time as possible.
With dark fired tobacco, wooden slabs covered with sawdust are placed under the tobacco that is hanging in the barn. The slabs are fired to smoke the tobacco. Workers will be required to cut wood and carry to barn to fire the tobacco. This process is repeated until the tobacco turns the appropriate color. Remaining ashes must be cleared away after firing the tobacco.
Care must be exercised to prevent bruising or breaking of plants and leaves at all times. Care must also be exercised in using tobacco knife, spear, while standing on rails, and stripping the crop. The trained workers will be expected, consistent with production standards required by other employers in the area of employment for the crop activity, to cut and house 50 sticks of tobacco per hour if the sticks are not dropped before cutting begins. If the sticks are dropped before cutting begins the trained worker is expected to cut and house 100 sticks per hour, for manual harvest and 120 for machine-aided harvest for Burley. Dark fire tobacco production standards are 50-60 sticks cut per hour.
Workers will take great care when stripping (removing tobacco from the stick) the tobacco. The tobacco is taken down from the barn. The stalks with leaves are removed from the sticks and piled under a piece of plastic to retain moisture (bulking down). Each worker pulls his assigned grade for the stalk and passes the stalk down to fellow workers. When a worker gets a full hand, the tobacco is tied into hands and placed on a strip stick.